Final Word: Buccaneers-Vikings

We usually run our Final Word post on Fridays and it includes nuggets on all the NFC South teams that are playing on Sunday or Monday.

We will still do that this Friday, but we need to have a special (slightly abbreviated) edition of Final Word because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night:

Three nuggets of knowledge about the Bucs and Vikings:

The deep game: I think the Bucs are starting to learn to play to the strengths of quarterback Josh Freeman and that’s why I think you’ll see a fair number of deep passes against the Vikings. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Freeman has completed 56 percent of his passes of 20 yards or more down the field. That percentage ranks second in the league. Freeman’s chemistry with Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams and Tiquan Underwood seems to continue to get better, so why not ride the hot hand -- or hot arm?

Strength vs. strength: The area that’s turned around most dramatically since the arrival of coach Greg Schiano has been the run defense. It was a major problem under Raheem Morris. But the Bucs now have one of the league’s best run defenses. The Bucs have allowed a league-low 3.0 yards per rush between the tackles. But they’re in for a big challenge. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson has run between the tackles 90.4 percent of the time this season. Peterson is particularly hot right now. He’s coming off a 153-yard rushing game against the Cardinals.

A hint for Schiano and his defensive staff: The Bucs might be wise to line their defensive backs very close to the line of scrimmage, or at least the defensive backs that are going to be covering Percy Harvin. He leads all NFL receivers with 27 receptions at or behind the line of scrimmage.